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The iPad Is 5 Years Old This Week, But You Still Don't Need One

edremy Re:Cost; exclusive applications (286 comments)

And there are plenty of applications that are on iOS but not Windows, such as games and messaging applications. If the game you want to play is exclusive to iOS, or the family member with whom you wish to communicate uses a proprietary instant messaging application that is available only for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone, then a Surface Pro isn't going to be the best choice.

Did I just see the availability of games on an Apple device being touted as an *advantage* over Windows? Man, comp.sys.mac.advocacy must be exploding... (BTW, I have Steam on my Surface, so there's not exactly a lack of games for it)

2 days ago
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The iPad Is 5 Years Old This Week, But You Still Don't Need One

edremy Re:I have (286 comments)

Kind of the same boat. Via work I have an iPad 2, Nexus 7 (first gen), MS Surface, Samsung Chromebook and HTC One phone. The Chromebook is my primary portable machine (email/web/notes), the Surface is really useful for certain specialized tasks, and the phone is always there, but the iPad and Nexus pretty much gather dust. The keyboard/trackpad combination is just really hard to beat for most tasks, and the Chromebook's is better than the Surface's. Doing any kind of real work on an iPad is just a recipe for high blood pressure.

The iPad is useful as a ereader when I'm on an exercise bike, so there is that...

2 days ago
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SpaceX Landing Attempt Video Released

edremy Re:Well Done, SpaceX (248 comments)

Really? Boeing returned a first stage booster from an orbital launch to the ground, intact? [Citation please] I've been following the space program since I was born- my first memory is Apollo 11, and I'm pretty sure Boeing has never managed anything like this at all.

And yes, the LEM managed a landing and ascent. On the moon. With no air. And 1/6th the gravity. And using separate ascent and landing stages- the stage that launched to lunar orbit was *not* recovered intact, and the landing stage was discarded after descent. It's not exactly the same problem.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Sounds We Don't Hear Any More?

edremy Re:Silence (790 comments)

Debated modding or replying here, but I'll echo this with a (quiet) absolutely.

Quiet is so rare these days people freak out when they (don't) hear it. I have a private office at work and it's still noisy- spillover noise from outside conversations, air handler, nearby printers, etc. I get a few minutes of it at nighttime and I'll often lay and enjoy it- enough quiet that I can hear a soft breeze outside or my wife breathing.

It's a lot like dark- very few people have ever been someplace actually *dark*, and their first action is to turn on a light rather than let their eyes adapt.

about three weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Are Progressive Glasses a Mistake For Computer Users?

edremy Re:Optometrist? (464 comments)

If he said anything other than "$5 pair of reading glasses" get a new optometrist. I had exactly the same experience with progressive lenses, and hated them. I put the prescription ones away and bought a pile of $5 2.0x reading glasses which are fine. The next trip back to the doc he asked how I was doing, then wrote my prescription for plain old 2x glasses.

(I actually mostly use $30 ones now- I can get anti-glare/anti-reflective/oleophobic coated, scratch resistant polycarbonate glasses with memory titanium frames online)

about a month ago
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The One Mistake Google Keeps Making

edremy Re:How is it a mistake? (386 comments)

I always like the articles magazines like Forbes publish about Amazon. They're tired of seeing Amazon make no profit because it plows all its income back into infrastructure- "It's time for Amazon to start providing a return for investors". Fuck that- stockholders can get stuffed. If you want dividends, buy something else. Amazon (and Google) are thinking years to decades ahead, and they'll be stronger for it long after all the companies that took Forbes' advice are dead.

about a month ago
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Chromebook Gets "OK Google" and Intel's Easy Migration App

edremy This wasn't already on? (35 comments)

My nine year old figured out how to get the "Ok Google" voice recognition working on our Chromebook months ago. He barely bothers typing searches anymore- instead I get to hear his entire search history. I don't think he got far enough into the settings to hit the combo mentioned in the page

about a month ago
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Chromebooks Overtake iPads In US Education Market

edremy Re: So much so that Microsoft is trying to get in (193 comments)

Viruses are going to be tough to get distributed though. Something bad happens to a Chromebook? Hit the factory refresh button and it wipes everything on the machine. Since everything is stored with Google just log back in and all your documents are there. Pretty much the worst you have to do is redo your screen background, or flip a few advanced setting toggles if you're bothered.

It's one of the prime reasons I bought one for the family. Kids mess around with weird web sites? I don't have to worry about the machine. (My kid's mental health is another issue....) My kids break it? Oh well. It was $200, and if I get a new one they'll barely notice.

about 2 months ago
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Chromebooks Overtake iPads In US Education Market

edremy Not surprised (193 comments)

This seems a no-brainer for me in a couple of ways. Chromebooks aren't any more fragile than normal laptops in my experience- yes, they are cheap but dropping a $1200 Macbook Air, a $500 iPad and a $200 Chromebook on a tile floor are all likely to do permanent damage. My two (very rough) kids haven't managed to kill my Acer 720 yet. Given the low price and the "All files are in the cloud, devices are totally interchangable" it's easy to deal with them, plus they have a working keybaord and a trackpad.

On the flip side, I'm really seeing a move towards Google Apps for my middle schooler. Virtually all his projects are done as part of a group, and they work from online documents. He doesn't need the high end features of Word or Excel: he needs a way to have multiple people work on something over two weeks. It's easy for the teacher as well- just send them the link and you're done, no papers to lose.

about 2 months ago
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Amazon's Echo: a $200, Multi-Function, Audio-Centric Device

edremy Re:Amazon has officially gone Google (129 comments)

Is it? My understanding is that AWS is in large part the excess capacity Amazon needs for peak times, so otherwise the hardware sits around unused. AWS is just getting something out of that. Am I wrong here?

about 3 months ago
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Will the Google Car Turn Out To Be the Apple Newton of Automobiles?

edremy Re:How hard is it to recognize a stoplight? (287 comments)

No, you compare to an average of the driving populace, not the best or worst. Why? Because that's what the insurance companies are going to do. When it becomes obvious that SDCs are better drivers than humans, you're going to start seeing a serious push to let the bots take over.

I don't think it's going to take anywhere near as long as people think. There's a *huge* market for this. My grandmother in law is 93. She basically can't drive, but wants to stay in her house. My wife's in the hospital right now and I have two kids that need to be different places at the same time. One of my old teachers is blind, etc, etc SDC taxi pools can act like super-flexible mass transit for areas that don't have any

about 3 months ago
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Users Report Warping of Apple's iPhone 6 Plus

edremy Re:Not just iPhone (421 comments)

They also have curved backs. I had thought it was just for show, but perhaps not. I haven't managed to bend my M7 yet, and I'm not sure I could.

about 4 months ago
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Users Report Warping of Apple's iPhone 6 Plus

edremy Re:Third option (421 comments)

I had assumed the curved back on my HTC One was just for show, but perhaps the designers were actually thinking this way. It's way harder to bend a curved surface than a flat one.

about 4 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Alternate Software For Use On Smartboards?

edremy Re:Ditch the smartboard (96 comments)

Don't diss the Surface Pro. Yes, it is *absolutely* a better solution. No, you can't replace it with an iPad- the iPad is like fingerpainting compared to the fine detail you get on a Surface. And why would you want to buy an additional Wacom tablet when the Surface uses a Wacom digitzer in the first place? You can write directly on the Surface rather than trying to master the blind writing skill you need with an external tablet. And if there's a tablet+pen interface better than OneNote on a Mac or Linux let me know, because I've yet to see it.

We've been buying more and more of them lately simply because they work so bloody well for this sort of task.

/Waiting for the "Troll" downmods I get everytime I mention that they are far nicer than most people realize.

about 4 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

edremy Our Associate VP of IT (392 comments)

has a Ph.D. in 17th century English literature. Admittedly we do work at a college, but you might be surprised at what humanists are doing these days: he got into the computer side of things while building databases of who was sending who letters around then. Digital Humanities is a growing field, and one that has some interesting CS applications- you've got things like Mallet chewing through vast swathes of literature looking for correlations, you have folks building high end digital maps to look into questions of how sight lines affected historical battles, etc.

about 4 months ago
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Unpopular Programming Languages That Are Still Lucrative

edremy Re:Learn Coldfusion (387 comments)

Heh- a large chunk of our timesheet system where I work as well as departmental budgets is all done within a custom portal written in.... ColdFusion. We're slowly moving away from bits of it (The helpdesk ticketing/inventory control parts are gone now) but I can't see it dying completely within the next decade.

about 5 months ago
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Did you use technology to get into mischief as a child?

edremy What technology? (231 comments)

If you're talking computers, my neighbor got a hard copy terminal when I was about 8- it was hooked up by phone line to the mainframe at work and printed on green bar paper. Hacking wasn't much of an option. "Technology" to my generation probably would have been a 4-barrel carb or a tube guitar amp.

about 5 months ago

Submissions

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Blackboard will acquire Angel Learning

edremy edremy writes  |  more than 5 years ago

edremy (36408) writes "The 900-pound gorilla of learning management systems, Blackboard, announced that it will take over Angel Learning one of its last competitors in the commercial arena. Blackboard is well known for buying out (and killing) WebCT, Prometheus and other LMSes as well as sueing Desire2Learn over basic LMS functionality. This leaves behind a few small commercial companies and a variety of open source tools such as Moodle and Sakai which have been growing rapidly."
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Are online journals damaging science?

edremy edremy writes  |  more than 6 years ago

edremy (36408) writes "You would think that the availability of powerful search engines and online, full text databases would increase the depth and breadth of science research. According to a paper in this week's Science (Abstract available here) which compares citations for ~34 million papers over the last 60 years, you'd be wrong. Papers written in the electronic age cite newer papers on the whole, and the overall number of papers in a journal that get cited at all plummets. It's not entirely clear why this should be, but the efficiency of modern indices may tend to narrow people's searching: you lose the "Hmm, what's this other article about?" serendipity that helps find those articles that might be useful but not exactly what you wanted."
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Blackboard wins patent infringement suit

edremy edremy writes  |  more than 6 years ago

edremy (36408) writes "Learning management system maker Blackboard has won its initial suit against Desire2Learn. Blackboard gets $3.1 million and can demand that Desire2Learn stop US sales.

For those not familiar with the suit, you can get the details here. Blackboard has been granted a patent that covers a single person having multiple roles in an LMS: for example, a TA might be a student in one class and an instructor in another. You wouldn't think something this obvious could even be patented, but so far it's been a very effective weapon for BB, badly hurting D2L and generating a huge amount of worry for the few remaining commercial LMSes that BB has not already bought and open source solutions such as Moodle."

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